I first took particular notice of federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland when I read her book Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else. The book, a national bestseller, describes in detail how the very, very rich, the infamous 0.1 percent, have become the masters of the globe while the rest of us have struggled to remain in place; and how this is less the result of meritocracy than of effective lobbying of politicians.
Freeland was well-qualified to write the book. She spent 20 years as a financial journalist, serving in a range of positions including as managing editor and Moscow bureau chief for the Financial Times , deputy editor of The Globe and Mail, and editor of Thomson Reuters Digital.
Both her views and experience would appear to coincide with the new global tax deal agreed on at the recent OECD meeting. The deal, which will involve 130 countries, represents a major overhaul of international tax rules, including a 15 percent global minimum tax on corporations and other changes aimed at cracking down on tax havens. Of particular importance, the tax will be applied where companies do business regardless of where they are headquartered. Freeland applauded the deal, saying it could earn Canada up to $4.5-billion a year.
Other finance minsters agree. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire claimed that “For the first time we’d be in a situation at the world level to avoid tax optimization and tax avoidance, and to have a fair amount of taxes paid by digital giants from the United States, China or European Union countries.”
Now it will be a matter for the finance ministers gaining approval from their governments. All eyes are on the U.S., the essential party. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is big on the deal, remarking that “As of this morning, virtually the entire global economy has decided to end the race to the bottom on corporate taxation.” But getting agreement from Congress will be a challenge.
As far as this country is concerned, with Chrystia Freeland as finance minister there can be no doubt where Canada stands.